Broken Chanter – Broken Chanter

David MacGregor's debut solo record as Broken Chanter bares the mark of maturity that comes with age whilst possessing the same vitality as his earlier work with Kid Canaveral

Album Review by Amy Kenyon | 10 Sep 2019
  • Broken Chanter – Broken Chanter
Album title: Broken Chanter
Artist: Broken Chanter
Label: Late Night from Glasgow / Olive Records
Release date: 6 Sep

Broken Chanter is the self-titled debut from Kid Canaveral’s David MacGregor. Opening with Nineteen Ninety-Eight, recordings of a Japanese commuter train along with other industrial sounds instantly bring the album to life. Although the recordings were captured on MacGregor’s travels, this first track conjures up images of crossing the Firth, the violin soaring like a blinding light illuminating the bridge’s structure. The sound of Broken Chanter was undoubtedly forged in Scotland.

As with MacGregor’s songwriting with Kid Canaveral, the album appeals to Scottish sensibilities: a gallous exterior belying an inherent vulnerability and self-consciousness through tender and self-effacing lyrics such as 'What if you stay and I disappoint' (Don’t Move to Denmark), 'Is this how I’m supposed to feel' and 'I swear there was dust in my eye' (Occupy My Hours). 

For fans of The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit, Wholesale is melancholic pop you can dance to, with punchy rhythms and electronics that give a melodious backbone to regimented beats; a distinctly Scottish pulse that's also present elsewhere on the album. Backing vocals are ethereal and spectre-like, shimmering into and out of focus in contrast to the strong vocals and lyrical hook from MacGregor.

In latest single Should We Be Dancing?, traditional-sounding fiddle from Jill O’Sullivan (Bdy_Prts, Sparrow and the Workshop) paired with MacGregor’s modern folk pop musings reminds us of the early hours after a drunken Hogmanay party, reminiscing over the past yet hopeful and optimistic at what the new year might bring.

Although rooted in Scotland, the landscape of the record is much more expansive, leaving time to ruminate and to reflect on the past. Much like the Hogmanay party feel conjured up in Should We Be Dancing?, Broken Chanter takes place where tradition meets modernism, where childhood meets the wisdom of adulthood. MacGregor’s writing bares the mark of maturity that comes with age whilst possessing the same vitality as his earlier work with Kid Canaveral.

Listen to: Should We Be Dancing?, Wholesale, Don’t Move to Denmark